Calgary Muslims gather in thousands to mark Eid al-Adha
Eid al-Adha is one of Islam’s biggest holidays
Tens of thousands of Muslims in every quadrant of Calgary marked the start of Eid al-Adha on Sunday.
Eid al-Adha is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated annually. The other, Eid al-Fitr, comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan where Muslims fast.
This Eid marks the end of the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, which is one of the pillars of Islam and a requirement for Muslims to make at least once in their life, for those that are physically able.
It's known as the festival of the sacrifice and commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son. In the end, a lamb is sacrificed instead of the boy. Many families have an animal slaughtered and share the meat in thirds with friends, family and the poor.
Thousands braved the rain to gather in huge outdoor tents at the Akram Joma Islamic Centre on Sunday morning for prayers, joined by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
"We learn from this particular day that in order for us to unite, in order for us to make our world a better place we have a responsibility," said Imam Fayaz Tilly with the Muslim Council of Calgary.
"Part of that responsibility is educating ourselves, sacrificing our time and our wealth to ensure we leave this world in a better place," said Tilly.
Premier Kenney spoke to the crowd about religious freedom and tolerance in Alberta, making reference to Alberta being home to several Muslim firsts.
"It is in this province that the first Muslim was elected to a Canadian legislature and appointed to a Canadian cabinet," said Kenney.
"It is in this province that the first Muslim was elected to the parliament of Canada, it is in this province that the first Mosque in Canada was constructed and so it is in this province that we will continue to be leaders in the defence of religious freedom, demonstrating that Islam and Muslim people have a central place in our society," Kenney said.
The event was one of many organized by the Muslim Council of Calgary in all corners of the city.
"We have this event all across the city and all across the world," said Mohammad Hajar, chair of the MCC.
"We have it in the southeast, northeast, southwest and the northwest, the same type of gathering and same ceremony. We put in lots of effort," said Hajar.
As well as prayers, Eid al-Adha involves the sharing of food and gifts among family and friends.
Eid runs for the next three days.